Have I got your attention?

Have I got your attention?  A post about paying attention and avoiding the general trap of default thoughts or behaviour“Hey, what are you doing out here?  You must be cold.”
“No, I’m fine.”
“I can see your goosebumps.  Here, take my jacket.”
“Ok, I get it.  Chivalry isn’t dead.  But, if you give me your jacket, then you’ll probably get cold.  How does that make sense?”
“I insist.”
“Why?  Why do you insist?”
“Well, I don’t know.  It’s the right thing to do.”
“It’s the right thing to do to force your jacket on someone who doesn’t want it?”
“What? No! That’s not what I meant!”
“That’s what you said.”
“Listen, is this some feminism thing?”
“Are you serious? No, it’s a logic thing.  But, since you brough
t it up, would you have offered your jacket to a male friend?”
“It depends on which friend.  I mean, my jacket would never fit Josh, the way he works out.”
“Ok, fine. I wouldn’t have offered my jacket to a male friend.”
“I guess, I’d assume they were fine or could handle it.”
“And yet, you couldn’t give me the same consideration.”
“Well, now I’m feeling kind of dumb.”
“Don’t feel dumb.  It’s just a matter of listening, or of paying attention, maybe.  You figured I’d be cold, I said I was fine. It ends right there.”
“Makes sense.  So, can I have my jacket back?”

Are there situations where you fall victim to default thinking or behaviour because ‘that’s the way it’s supposed to be’?  Or because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’?  Are there times when it makes sense?  What opportunities for growth or innovation could you be missing out on, if you just do or say the typical thing?  Are there things or people in your personal life or at work that could bear more attention?

Choose your own adventure

Choose your own adventure www.theredelevator.comYou’ve just got some bad news.  You didn’t get the job or the promotion you really wanted.  The love of your life doesn’t love you anymore.  Your business is officially failing.  Do you:

A) Shit on yourself?  You feel like the world is against you.  You weren’t good enough for that job anyway.  Why would she still love you? You’re obviously not marriage material. Why did you think you could succeed at your dream?  Now, what are you going to do to pay your bills?


B) Believe that better things are on the way for you?  You weren’t meant to get this job/promotion.  You’ll figure out what’s next.  You’re heartbroken, but you know that you’ll find the person who’s right for you when it’s the right time. You’ve experienced what’s not working, now you need to explore new ways to succeed in your business.

Please note: I’m not implying that person A doesn’t realize at some point that there are good things that come out of losing out on the job/promotion or the love of their life, and learning what not to do in their business.   Nor am I implying that person B skips along in sunshine surrounded by butterflies every day, and won’t feel anger or frustration or sadness or loss.  I’m simply asking about your initial reactions, thoughts, and feelings.

If you choose A, please skip to “I’m going to give it to you straight”.

If you choose B, please read below.

You know that acknowledging the bad, letting yourself feel your feelings, accepting the situation,  analyzing the whys and coming up with solutions are the steps to come out the other side better than you were before. And during that process, you are allowed to smile, laugh, feel good, have a day off, and take care of yourself.  Feel free to give yourself a pat on the back and stop reading here. Go and check out my facebook page for some interesting articles!

I’m going to give it to you straight:  getting down on yourself doesn’t make things better.  Worrying doesn’t motivate you to get out of your bad situation. In fact, it does the opposite – it keeps you there, viciously cycling through what he said, what she did, how this and that happened and what should have happened instead.  It takes you a lot longer to push through the feelings of shame and embarrassment to where you are able to look at things clearly.
Do you scoff at those people who say that the Universe wants them to succeed?  Do you think that people who think things are ‘meant to be’ are deluding themselves? Have you ever kept up with those people to find out what happened after they went through their bad situation?  Have you found that, in fact, they are happier and more successful?  They got an even better job/promotion, they met and married the most fantastic person or their business made seven figures last year?   What do you put that down to?  Good luck? Actually, it’s due in large part to their positive attitude. Their belief that they deserve good in their lives and they will get it. I’m not saying you have to start believing in the benevolence of the Universe or in destiny, but you do have to start believing in yourself.   It’s likely you generally do, or you wouldn’t be here, but do you realize that even initially assigning blame to yourself or your personality instead of your behaviour or your thinking means that deep down, you don’t believe you deserve all the good things that you want?  When things are going well, you are confident and sure.  But when things go sideways, you get lost for a bit.

Instead,  stop for a moment and acknowledge that what’s happened really sucks.  You really wanted the job, the girl, the business to be profitable by now.  Rage, cry, get drunk, watch Love, Actually on repeat.  Feel your feelings.  You are allowed to feel bad.  Just don’t make any permanent decisions here.  Once you get those feelings out of your system, notice how much lighter you feel.  You’re ready to accept your situation for what it is.  An impermanent occurrence.  Figure out why it happened.  Be realistic and honest with yourself.  Understand that not everything is under your control, but that now you get to make decisions about the things that are under your control.  Namely, what you’re going to do next.  What are your next steps to getting that promotion?  Is it possible to talk things out with your loved one?  Who can you ask for help with your business?  Make a plan and implement.  And while you are going through this, take care of yourself.  Talk to friends, go out and let off some steam, feel good about your progress and the good things in your life.  The next thing you know, you are moving up, moving on, and moving forward.  And the next time something bad happens, you’ll choose B because you know you deserve good things and you know how to get them.

Photo credit: S. Bailey

How did I get here?

How did I get here? A post on disconnectionLila Duchesne was one of those people who didn’t remember her dreams.  She was unable to commiserate with her friend who couldn’t figure out why she kept on dreaming she was naked at work or join in dream analysis discussions with her colleagues.  She just fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning at her alarm’s insistent beeping with blankness in the hours between.  It didn’t use to be like this.   She used to have vivid dreams about flying and fantastical creatures.  She’d once had a philosophical conversation with a tree where she seemed on the cusp of understanding the meaning of life until the alarm dashed her hopes.  But in the middle of college, her dreams just stopped coming, and 20-odd years on, nothing had changed.   She was musing about this on her way to work because just last night her mother had reminded her that she used to have such a wild imagination when she was a child, always acting out little skits for ‘her audience’, making up songs about people and singing each person their own special song to make them feel better, and she used to draw out all her dreams, papering her room with the drawings.  Her mother had kept all the drawings as a reminder of her “little artist”.   Lila sighed and shook her head now, thinking that she should probably visit her parents.  It was obvious her mom was missing her.  All of a sudden, she felt an arm across her chest, pushing her back onto the sidewalk.

“Hey, Lila!  You almost walked in front of that bus!  Didn’t you see the light change?”  It was her co-worker, Steve.

“No.  Thanks for saving me.”  Lila was feeling a little shaken.  She was usually so cautious.

“Can you imagine if I hadn’t been late leaving my place today?  You’d be splattered on the front of the bus and the road too, probably.  I’d have to write your obituary.  ‘Lila Duchesne, 43 years old, a senior financial analyst with Fastech Industries, a Fortune 500 company, leaves behind her dog Samson, and …”

As Steve enthusiastically went on describing her life and death, Lila felt like she’d just done a sidestep, like, if this was a movie, everybody would be paused, and she’d be looking at herself from outside her body.  I’m 43 years old.  I’m a financial analyst.  How did I get here, how did I get to this life?  I’m Lila, the girl who could run faster than all of her friends, the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and see what adventures she could embark on.  What happened?


When this happened to me, it wasn’t dramatic like Lila’s situation at all.  I can’t even remember what triggered it.  It was just a little shift and I thought to myself, I’m a software training team lead. I felt momentarily unreal; like I was reading about somebody else in a book.  It was rather neutral too.  I didn’t feel dismayed at the realization, so to speak, it was more like a quiet jolt. And wouldn’t it make a great blog post if I could say that was the moment I realized I wanted to do something else?  Nope. I shifted back into myself and continued working.  But, I do think that it was a catalyst to thinking about what was out there for me.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  Where you suddenly and temporarily had a bird’s-eye view of your life?

What realizations or home truths came about as a result?

If this hasn’t happened to you (or you’d like it to happen again in a more controlled fashion), what could you do to manufacture this shift process to gain knowledge about yourself?  I sometimes have daydreams about being interviewed on a talk show (doesn’t everybody?), and when I start talking about how I got to where I am or did what I did it gets me seriously thinking about why I made the life choices I did.  Other times, I’m watching a procedural and I wonder how I’d behave if I was being questioned in court.  How would I explain my actions?

Now it’s your turn.  Let me know your story in the comments!


Do you want even more helpful questions?  Click on Work With Me to find out more about what I offer and contact me for a complimentary chat.

Where was I?

Well, I certainly didn’t mean to take a blogging break for almost a year and a half. But it happened because, as I tried to continue in the same vein, I was finding it hard to write posts that didn’t feel lecture-y and dry and that gave value. It also wasn’t enjoyable and rewarding for me to write them so it was easier to just focus on curating articles and posting my thoughts on social media.

However, I feel I’ve hit on a way to get my messages out that will work for everyone. You’ll get stories, along with questions/points to think about at least once a month. I will likely chime in with personal news or extra posts here and there. I hope you enjoy my posts and please let me know what you think!

The dangers of momentum

Your father travels extensively for work.  When he’s gone, you miss him, and you try to learn things and do things that you think will impress him and show him how smart and capable you are.  When he comes home, you are beside yourself with excitement, and yet, while he’s affectionate to your sister, he seems to be disappointed when he sees you and rushes away before you can share all your new skills and abilities. Time goes on, and you get older, with the same thing happening every time your father comes back from his work trips. 

Finally, one day,  your father decides you are ready to go with him on his next voyage. This is what you’ve been waiting for since you can remember!  You are happy and you rush around getting ready, studying up on what you’ll need to know for the trip, and having important talks with your father (well, really, he lectures you for hours about where you’re going and what’s required of you, but you’re still having serious work meetings).  As excited as you are, in quiet moments, you feel insecure, and not a little frightened.  You have always been a sickly child, and you’ve learned how many diseases there are where you’re going, how violent the ‘savages’ are, and how there won’t be anyone else with you except your father, who doesn’t have any patience with fear or caution.   You’ll miss your mum and your sister, and the friend you and your sister have grown up with.  They know you best and have always been there for you, no matter what.  But, every time you have these thoughts, you tell yourself to “Buck up!”.  After all, your father knows what he’s doing.  He wouldn’t have asked you along if he didn’t think you could handle it.  And you know what you’re doing too.  You’ll be fine.

A couple of weeks before you and your father leave, there is a night where you meet up with your friend in the garden and she tries to kiss you, but you don’t know what to do.  You’ve never thought of her that way.  And you don’t need these distractions!  You don’t have room to think about anything but the trip.  She’s upset, and tells you that she has a feeling about you.  A feeling that if you go on this trip, you won’t come back.  You’ll die.  You step back in shock.  What is she talking about?!  Obviously, she feels rejected, but it’s quite mean of her to try to scare you about the trip.  You walk away in anger.   That’s the last time you see her until the day before the trip.  She’d fallen quite seriously ill shortly after your meeting in the garden, and you want to make sure you leave on good terms with her.  When you visit, she seems like a different person. But you talk to her, tell her you are leaving and that you hope she recovers soon.  She asks you to kiss her.  You do. And then, in a very different way than before, she tells you you are going to die.  This time, it has the pronouncement of truth.  You can feel it in your bones that she’s right.  You take your leave of her, but stop in the entryway of the house.  You can’t get the…the knowledge out of your head.  But, you’ve done all the preparations, you’ve had your heart set on this trip, you can’t back out now.  And yet…no, you are going to go.  You’ll be fine.

For those of you who watched the first season of this show as avidly as I did, you’ll recognize that I just described the story of a minor character that was told in flashbacks of one of the main characters (Don’t worry, no spoilers!  You learn he is dead quite early on in the show, and his character is only used to flesh out the backgrounds of two of the main characters).  I did use a little artistic license, as we don’t really learn the thoughts of this minor character, and also to add/subtract some details.

I thought his story was a good example of the dangers of momentum.  He was primed to his fate since he was a child.  The only son of a great explorer, and his father finally pays some attention to him.  Regardless, the true knowledge of his death should have stopped him, but his momentum, which was made up of many things (his father’s behaviour to him, his thoughts about his father and himself, his urge to prove himself once and for all) kept him going to his ultimate doom.

And really, isn’t that what keeps us going with degrees that we realize we don’t want to complete, with jobs we dislike, with relationships that we know aren’t good for us?

“I’ve almost finished my degree!  I’m not going to stop now when I’m so close.  I’ll figure something out after I’m done”.  

“I’ve worked my way up to this position for the past 5 years.  I can’t have wasted all that time for nothing.   So what if I dread going to work every day and my boss hates me?  I’ll suck it up and just deal”.

“She’s fine.  We know each other’s likes and dislikes.  We have our routine.  It’s easy.   Every guy looks at other women and wishes he was with them instead.  This is normal”.

We worry about what other people will think.  We distract ourselves with going out, buying things, drinking, eating, and other activities.  We conveniently forget the stuff that makes us uncomfortable; the things that makes us face our own truth.  And when we do have cause to think about where we are in our lives, we convince ourselves that changing would be too huge and too scary and it would mean we’re going backwards while everyone else is going forwards.

So, let’s break it down:

  1. Big change is huge and scary.  Even when you want it, it’s still risky. Are you just going to stand still forever?
    Answer: No.  The rewards of change are exponentially greater than the effort it takes to make the change.  In other words, change is worth it.
  2. Are you really going backwards if you stop doing something that makes you miserable?
    Answer:  No.  You are really ahead of everyone else.
  3. If you continue along the same path, will the (supposed) approval of others give meaning to your life and fill your heart with joy?
    Answer:  No.  Living for yourself will give you the satisfaction and fulfillment you’ve been missing.
  4. Do your knowledge, experience, skills, and abilities get erased once you leave the degree, job, or relationship?
    Answer:  No. Everything you’ve learned up till now contributes to who you are and can be used as you move towards a better future.

Whatever thoughts, stories, and (other people’s) opinions make up your momentum, don’t let it pull you along.  If it seems too hard to step out of the world for a moment and let all criticism and judgement fall away, try this trick:  What would you tell a good friend who was in the same position?  Then, take that good advice, one step at a time.   We don’t have someone to foretell when we’re going to die, so shouldn’t we stop and take stock and make sure we choose the path we’re on?


On a personal note…
I do realize the irony of me writing about the dangers of momentum when I rather stalled in writing for my blog (though I have kept up with posting on my social media sites).  I can offer the very valid excuse of purging, packing, and moving, and then settling in to my new place, but that just takes care of August and a bit of September.  I thought about forcing myself to write, but I didn’t want to have sub par posts.  Even though I did feel like I was sinking my business before it even really began.  After all, how are people going to get to know me if I don’t show up here? And that was the problem.  I got into the mindset that every post had to be perfectly written, perfectly helpful, and perfectly show who I am and what I think.  It took an email from another business owner about procrastination that made me realize the trap I’d fallen into.  Now, that I’m back, you can look forward to more content, on a more regular basis in the new year!  Happy Holidays!

To tribe or not to tribe?

Lately, I’ve been running across a lot of articles about finding a tribe of people who are like-minded and will support you as well as help to hold you accountable for your business endeavours. On the one hand, I’m all for it. I’ve been feeling a little alone when it comes to starting my own service-based business. People seem much more accepting of my husband’s business, which is product-based. They’re a little more concerned about how I’ll build momentum, a little more worried about how I’ll increase my business. Some of their concern may have to do with people, especially my parents’ age, not knowing what a life coach is, unless they are in the field or a related industry (at least here in Canada). But, overall, it seems like if you aren’t doing a traditional service-based business (ex. doctor, dentist, massage therapist, hairstylist) or one that people at least recognize, then they aren’t ready to fully support you in your new endeavour.  It’s also quite the change for everyone around me, to see me go from working for corporations in one capacity or another to starting my own business, in a field that doesn’t quite sound real to them. Looking at it this way, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for me to get together with a group of people who understand me, know where I’m coming from, know what kinds of practical issues I’ll run into while starting a business, and who will help me, champion me, and be there through the good and bad. On top of that, so many successful people in my field whom I admire have a tribe, so it seems savvy from a business point of view too.

And yet, I hesitate.  I was quite shy as a child.  Once I got to know people, I made one or two good friends and was friendly to everyone else but not close.  As I grew older, I grew less shy, and understood that I was introverted.  I might be quiet until I felt comfortable, but after that, I would be my usual self.  I remember people being shocked by my sense of humour because they didn’t expect it from “sweet and quiet Sérene”.  Nowadays, I’m not shy, and most of the time, have no problems starting up conversations or joining in.  In fact, I’ve always equally liked being alone or with one or two good friends.  The thing is, I have those good friends in each of the different areas of my life –   work friends from the diverse companies for which I’ve worked, friends from my university days, and friends from here and there.  They all know some of the aspects of me I let everyone see, but, otherwise, each set knows different parts of me.  I’ve never had a ‘gang’ of friends.   A tribe would be the equivalent of a gang of friends.  Is that something I could handle?  It seems like this tribe would have to know my personal life as well as my professional life in order to understand me better and know when I’m self-sabotaging from fear of failure, or to help me figure out when I can actually handle taking my business to the next level.   Letting a group of people in wholeheartedly would be quite a significant step for me.

If I choose to go for it, do I actively look for this tribe or do I let it happen naturally?  Do I try to form my own group or join an existing one?  Which will be the harder thing to do?  Am I overthinking it?

As I try to figure out this tribe issue for myself, think about your tribe, if you have one.  It could be your book club, your gang of friends, or an official business group to which you belong.  Are you able to be vulnerable and get encouragement and support?  Do they help you with your goals and desires?  Does your tribe give you what you need?

Oh, the lure of easy money

Picture this:  You wake up to the alarm in the morning.  You know you can hit the snooze button twice before you really have to get up.  When you do get up, you are on autopilot.  You brush your teeth, shower, change into your work clothes, grab breakfast, and you’re out the door.  On your way to work, you are either totally immersed in your to-do list or you are trying not to think about work.  As you walk up to the door to your office suite/building, you pause and take a deep breath, and then walk in.  After that, it’s the usual – checking emails, chatting, working, prepping for a meeting, having the meeting, breaking for lunch, and repeat.  Toward the end of the day, you either scramble to finish off the urgent matters, and get out after exactly 8 hours on a good day, or you get most of your work done after the majority of your colleagues has left, and walk out after 10-12 hours.  On the way home, you are either totally immersed in that thing that happened at work (that email that took you 2 hours to write; the 3 meetings that prevented you from getting anything important done; the colleague who dumped their work on you, took credit for your work, or just made your day harder; etc.) or you are trying not to think about work.  You get home, and depending on what kind of day it was, you either do your evening activities with relief and enthusiasm or you sink down onto the couch and don’t get up till you have to go to bed. And then it starts again till the weekend, which feels like it just speeds by.

Do you recognize yourself?  If so, you’re making easy money.  I’m not talking about the quality of your work or saying that you’re lazy.  I’m talking about just getting pulled along by the current of your life. If you do have thoughts about what you’re doing with your life, you get caught up in the fact that you have to:  make a living; support your family; support your lavish lifestyle, etc.  Your job is a necessary activity so that you can do, and have other things, like status, high quality possessions, relative financial security and freedom.   There’s nothing else to be done and off you go back into your life flow.

Except, you can do something.  You can change that perspective.  You can add more value to your life with rewards that may be a little less tangible, but are just as important as the ones mentioned above.  Rewards like being more productive, being able to use the most of your strengths and skills, being able to meet challenges head on and overcome them and, at the end of day, feeling pleased with what you accomplished, relaxed, and ready to enjoy the rest of your evening and face the next day with equanimity and focus.

Answer the following questions with honesty and consideration:

Why do I like my job?
Why don’t I like my job?

These questions help you remember why you chose this job (or why you’ve chosen to stay at this job) and the specific reasons you dislike the job.  These answers can be anything — the people (I once didn’t go after a promotion that would have taken me to another branch because it was more important to me to continue working with my colleagues at my branch – they made the job easier and my days much better); the money; the boring administrative part of the job; the location, etc.  Take your time and put down whatever comes to mind.

What can I change about my daily responsibilities that will allow me to do more of what I like and less of what I don’t like?

With this question, you get to see how you can take the initiative to improve your workday.  You may not have total control over your daily responsibilities, but there’s value in answering this question even if it’s just about what you would change.

And, lastly:

What are the important duties vs. the urgent duties?

This is quite critical.  So much of our time is spent answering emails; having impromptu discussions; dealing with obstacles that come from other people/departments that it can seem that all we are doing is reacting to everything rather than being on top of everything.  By splitting up your responsibilities into two categories, you can spend your time more effectively.  Ideally, you should do the important duties right after you get into the office, when you are at your best in energy and brainpower.  These are the obligations that will have the most positive impact on the bottom line/the ease of your near future work/your value to your boss, department, and/or company.  Likely, these duties will be weighing heavily on your mind, and you’ll use a lot of energy trying to avoid them because you think they are going to be difficult or time-consuming.  Once you get those out of the way, you’ve already accomplished the most valuable work of your day.  Next come your urgent duties, like answering emails and making phone calls, and you should get through these as fast as possible.  You’ll need to create your list and schedule of important and urgent duties everyday depending on your calendar, but if you choose to be proactive, you’ll be able to be effective and efficient in spite of the typical interruptions of a workday.

This is just a start to changing your mindset about your work and life.  But, just by being aware of what exactly you are doing at work and why, you’re halfway to taking back control of your life.  If you act from deliberate thought and therefore effort, you stop making ‘easy money’ and start earning your just rewards.

Let me know your thoughts!

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to my website!

I believe everyone has the ability to find their life work, their thing that makes them feel energized and be resilient. And I know there is room in the world for every single person to do what they’re meant to do since it’s different for every single person.  Some people will do their life work in their spare time, and they’ll each do it in their own way.  Some people will quit their jobs and a number of them will find new careers while others will start a business.  Some people may find that their life work is continuing to do their current job, but they are better able to understand why and how to make improvements.  With this site, I’d like to help all of us live our best lives as we find and do our life work.

Please take a look around my site and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.  Thanks!